Position last year: 4
You could have forgiven John Lewis for having a quiet year after it went all out on its 150th anniversary celebrations in 2014.
But managing director Andy Street is not one to rest on his laurels. 2015 has seen him introduce click-and-collect charges, reshuffle the John Lewis top team, change its fashion buying structure (see Ed Connelly, number 28), open a Birmingham full-line store and announce plans to make its European debut in the Netherlands next year.
Now in his 30th year at the department store retailer, Street commands a lot of respect among his staff and the industry. The decision to charge for click-and-collect sparked a nationwide debate, with many commending Street for taking a stand. In June he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to economic growth, while last month he was appointed a lead non-executive director at the Department for Communities and Local Government, effective from January 1, advising on how the government should implement spending cuts.
Sales at John Lewis grew 3.8% to £1.9bn in the half-year ended August 1, with like-for-likes up 3%. However, group pre-tax profit before exceptional items at the John Lewis Partnership, including Waitrose, tumbled 26% to £96m. It said full-year profits will be lower than expected due to higher pension charges and low price inflation. After a record Black Friday weekend, Street’s prediction that the retailer will “win Christmas” in 2015 for the seventh year in a row looks to be on track.